Pentek announced the 7753 and 7853 beamformer PCIe modules. Each model is a high-speed software radio board for processing baseband RF or IF signals and incorporates unique and powerful beamforming functions. Created to accelerate system level design and lower system cost, the boards bring high-performance built-in features and connectivity to PC platforms. Software support packages are available for Linux, Windows, and VxWorks operating systems. Larger FPGAs are available enabling customers to do their own programming with GateFlow. Starting price for the 7753 and the 7853 starts at $15,795 and $14,195 ($USD), respectively. Delivery is 8 to 10 weeks ARO.
The Pentek Models 7753 and 7853 differ in the number of channels and PCIe lanes; eight channels and x16 wide PCIe interface in the former, four channels and x8 wide PCIe interface in the latter. Each module houses up to four or eight 200 MHz, 16-bit A/Ds, each equipped with its own wideband digital down converter (DDC). All essential beamforming functions are resident as factory-installed IP algorithms in the FPGAs of the 7753 and 7853.
Pentek Model 7753 Beamformers
- Built-in Beamformer supports multiboard systems
- Programmable Power Meter and Threshold Detect per channel
- PCI Express 2.0 (Gen. 2) Interface up to x16 wide (7753) or up to x8 wide (7853)
- 2 or 4 Channels of DDC
- Four 200 MHz, 16-bit A/Ds
- Independent 32-bit DDC tuning for all channels
- DDC decimation range from 2 to 256 or from 2 to 65536
- Independent decimation factors for each channel
- Default filters offer 0.2 dB ripple and 100 dB rejection
- LVPECL clock/sync bus for multiboard synchronization
By daisy chaining two or more boards through a pair of high-speed connectors mounted on the edge of each module, the beamforming chain can extend beyond the four or eight channels on each board. Xilinx’s Aurora protocol provides an efficient x4 point-to-point data path between boards at 1.25 GB/sec. This connectivity supports large systems with numerous antennas. In addition to the high speed x4 daisy chain, intermediate or final summation results are also available through the PCIe interface of each board for monitoring, recording or further analysis.
For antennas in an array, signals from a single source arrive at slightly different times, based on the distance between the source and each antenna. Beamforming involves compensating the gain and phase of each antenna signal before summation to line up the arrival phase for a particular angle of arrival from the source. In other words, the gain and the phase of each channel can be adjusted so the antenna array is effectively ‘steered’ electronically. This provides a highly-agile directional sensitivity for the overall antenna array, and greatly enhances signal strength and signal/noise ratio for sources along the specified direction.
These boards include power meters for each of the DDC channels that calculate the signal strength for each antenna. These measured values are extremely useful in calibrating the gain matching from channel to channel to optimize the beamforming result. In addition, power threshold detectors for each channel can be set to generate an interrupt to the host processor if the energy level exceeds or falls below a programmed level. This dramatically offloads the processor for the signal monitoring and scanning requirements that are often part of beamforming systems.
More info: Pentek